Culture · Life · Writing

The Big Sell



So I’m in the kitchen, opening a packet of Chia Seeds I bought in the health shop (because Omega 3, right?) when I notice a rather unusual claim in bold print:

Chia seeds, ancient food of the Aztecs.’  And I thought to myself, um…. they died.  All of them.  It was a wipeout.  I’m not sure that looking to the Aztecs for health tips is such a wise move.  I used to work in marketing, so I understand the process behind selling people things they don’t want or need, but even I’m baffled by the reasoning used to sell stuff these days.  It’s clear that they think we’re idiots – mindless consumers who will swallow any old sales patter from these snake oil sellers.

Next, it’s the turn of the serial ‘common sense offender’, the beauty industry.  There is a new face cream on the market that boasts as one of its ingredients, the leaf of some plant that a panther rubs up against in the rain-forest.  I mean, WHAT??  It’s the rain-forest, panthers probably bump against all sorts of plants on the way to the local watering hole, should we be spreading them all on our skin?  I just don’t see the correlation – is the panther doing it to stay younger?  Nope, she leaves that kind of shallow thinking to us humans.

Then it’s fashion.  Oh fashion, you give me an embarrassment of riches to choose from.   Statement Tees are the big thing now.  You don’t even have to speak anymore, or have opinions of your own when your friendly fashion label is having them for you.  Although, would you really want your top to say this?

Image result for follow your karma sweatshirt

What the…. what does that even mean?!  How can you follow your karma, when karma traditionally follows you?  Well, kudos for challenging the principles of cause and effect, I guess.

What this says to me is that the PR people have finally given up on the need to make any kind of sense at all. I’m sure you’ve all seen the 250 million year old Himalayan rock salt with an expiry date doing the rounds.  They’re literally lying to our face, and yet we still part with our hard earned money because, well, it’s Himalayan rock salt.  It MUST be good!

Yet, it’s the way in which they target women which is really insidious.  They seem to feed on our insecurities, or create insecurities where there were none.  I mean, how can you sell anti-aging cream without making people feel old?  Or sell diet pills?  A few years ago I actually wrote to the broadcasting authority about an ad for diet pills targeting young women.  They were shopping for clothes together and for whatever reason, one of them kept trying on clothes that were too small for her and as a direct consequence, she couldn’t go out with her friends.  But then she took the diet pills, miraculously found a dress that fit and they all had lunch together (presumably more diet pills).  The message was clear – be thin or be a social pariah.

Eventually the ad was pulled, but it won’t stop companies coming up with new ways to manipulate our inner fears sell more stuff.  Stuff that doesn’t even do what it promises to, but we keep buying it.  Lotions and potions to hide wrinkles, mask grey hairs or eradicate hair altogether!  So what are they telling us?  Don’t get old, fat, grey, hairy.  Just stop BEING.  If that’s what they wanted, they should have just given us the chia seeds.

7 thoughts on “The Big Sell

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